March 5th, 2010
Every garden should have the addition of herbs. You can make this a small section dedicated to the growing of different types or you can just mix them in amongst other plants. Even people with no garden at all can pop some into a pot and make a mini herb garden. I love my herbs. They are so useful for adding flavour to food and there is nothing quite a satisfying as taking a little stroll into the garden while preparing a meal and coming back with some fresh sage or basil. Oh, how simple pleasures can lift the spirit. It also gives you a great excuse to get out of the kitchen and into the garden.
Herbs are different from most other plants because of the strong volatile oils and other substances contained within them. Many herbs, such as rosemary, use these pungent flavours to survive because grazing animals are able to eat relatively small amounts of the stems and leaves, just ask my ducks! They try rosemary every now and then, but don’t seem to like the taste, although parsley is another matter! Still, herbs can be tough and that makes them my little buddies in the garden. Useful, tough and pretty! Who could ask for more?
Most herbs need a lot of sunshine to fully develop their characteristic flavours. They also need a very well drained place in the garden. So, if you keep that in mind you are sure to find a spot where they will be happy and make you happy too! You don’t need to fuss about them – they actually thrive in impoverished soil so you can just plant and forget most of the time. So easy care!
Some additions to my garden which I have found very useful and pretty are:
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) This is a very pretty perennial plant with a sharp, lemony scent and flavour. It grows in sun or in part shade. You can use the leaves as a flavouring and pop them into stir fries or cook them up with vegetables. It also makes a lovely tea. Or, just float some into a cool summer drink, just like you would do with mint.
Sage (Salvia officinalis) Who can live without this in their garden? A superbly pungent herb, this little fellow loves the sun! He also needs a very well-drained spot. In the kitchen a touch of sage can add magnificent flavour so, if you don’t have any – get some!
Parsley (Petroselinum crisptum) Here is one of the great herbs, being very rich in minerals and vitamins. Parsely can be used in large amounts in most dishes. Although, sometimes I can overdo it a bit when it is growing like mad and I am trying to get ahead of it and stop it all from going to seed! My children have been known to wail ‘Can’t you leave out that green stuff?’ It really costs just as much to buy a bunch from the supermarket as to buy a punnet of seedlings and have parsley for months so it is very worthwile to try to keep some in the garden.
Of course there are many others: Thyme; Marjoram; Chives and all the mints. Once you start you won’t want to stop!